Friday, September 18, 2009

"No Plan B" for Gitmo Detainees

Foreign Policy Journal's blog has noted with sympathy yesterday's BBC interview with Ambassador Daniel Fried, the unlucky fellow in charge of resettling our Gitmo detainees somewhere, anywhere, outside of the United States. Poor Ambassador Fried has to unload the 226 detainees who remain in Gitmo not later than January 22, 2010, in order to meet the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline for closing the detention center. He's been making progress, having found new homes for about eight detainees in the last six months.

Ambassador Fried, who refuses to criticize the U.S. Congress, couldn't avoid remarking to the BBC that his job is made harder by the utter refusal of U.S. politicians to take in any "cleared detainees," i.e., those whom the administration has ruled may be released provided someone can find a jurisdiction that will accept them.

Mr Fried's tough job has not been helped by the decision of Congress to block the transfer of any cleared detainees from Guantanamo to the US mainland.

He says he will not criticise Congress, but told me: "It is fair to say, as just an objective statement, that the US could resettle more detainees [worldwide], had we been willing to take in some."

He's not kidding that Congress is unwilling. The Senate has voted 90-6 to forbid the transfer of any Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, and the House has been equally recalcitrant.

Still not criticizing anyone, Fried continued:

"But I also have to state that parliamentarians in Europe and the US have raised questions about security - and we have to respect those opinions." [See those opinions here]

So, without cooperation from those parlimentarians, how will Ambassador Fried be able to meet the January deadline? He really can't say.

"President Obama's timetable is what we've got, we don't have Plan Bs."

Maybe it's time to think up a Plan B. I'll start: let's return them to their home countries whether they want to go or not.

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